Today is my son Ethan’s 11th birthday. It blows my mind. I don’t feel old enough to have an 11-year-old son, especially since I can clearly remember what life was like for me at his age.

It’s been quite the ride. Parenting is one of those things that you have to figure out as you go. Sure, people give you advice but every situation is different. It’s become pretty common for my wife and I to look at each other and wonder what we should do in a particular situation.

With that being said, I wouldn’t change my life as a dad/husband for anything. Ethan was first and got me started as a dad.

In honor of today and Ethan’s eleven years on Earth, I thought I’d share eleven things that I appreciate about him:

1) His “birth” day. On this day eleven years ago, my wife went into the hospital and had an emergency c-section. The whole process took four hours. Because of the emergency c-section, they had to put my wife to sleep. I held Ethan for an hour before she woke up. Man, were my arms sore. Anyway, the coolest part of the whole thing was that we didn’t know we were having a boy. Two of the proudest moments in my life were when the doctor said “it’s a boy” and when I walked out to the waiting room and told my family “we have a boy.”  On a side note, I would highly recommend to new parents that they not find out the sex for at least one of their babies. It’s the best surprise ever.

2) He loves video games. Not only does Ethan enjoy video games, he likes playing sports games like me. When I play games with him, it takes me back to my childhood when I used to play Nintendo with my brother and friends. The biggest difference is that he’s not trying to hit me with the controller when I beat him like my brother used to.

3) His sarcasm. I know that being sarcastic isn’t necessarily a good quality. Growing up, I would make my mom so angry. Now I make my wife angry. There have been times that Ethan has said something sarcastic and I wanted to get angry but also wanted to give him a high five.

4) He loves playing basketball. I enjoy playing basketball too. It’s something I can do with Ethan. Last night, he went with me to the gym to watch me play. In the last game, two of the adults sat out and Ethan and another kid stepped into play. He loved it. Almost every day, Ethan asks me to play basketball with him outside. Most of the time, I don’t mind. I know that it’s good for both of us.

5) He’s becoming an NFL football fan. I’ve been a crazed Minnesota Vikings supporter since the mid-90’s. Each year, Ethan watches more and more football with me (Thank you NFL Sunday Ticket!). We visited the pro football Hall of Fame earlier this year. As an NFL fan, I also love fantasy football. I’ve been playing for over 20 years. Ethan is joining in on the fun. This year, he managed his own fantasy team and finished second in his league. It won’t be too long and he’ll be playing in my super-competitive fantasy league.

6) He wants to do everything with me. I can definitely appreciate that Ethan looks up to me and wants to do the things that I want to do. It’s annoying at times but I feel blessed to have children that want to be around me. I know there’s going to be a day where his friends will come first. I’m doing my best to cherish these moments while I can.

7) His shyness. I’m definitely an introvert at heart. As a kid, I was painfully shy so I completely understand what Ethan deals with at times. In his moments of shyness, I try to see his perspective but I also don’t want him to miss out on something. I know there were many times my parents made me do something as a kid that I didn’t want to. Ultimately, I was glad that they did.

8) He loves his brother and sister. Ethan can harass my other two kids like no one else but I know he cares about them and takes his responsibility as the oldest brother seriously. My hope is that he always has their backs.

9) He loves LEGO. I played with LEGO some as a kid but I think I enjoy them more now because they give me the chance to be creative and do something with my kids. Whenever I get a LEGO set, I have to make sure that they have sets to build too or they’ll want to “help” me.

10) His creativity. Ethan is a pretty good artist even if he doesn’t always show it. When I was a kid, I drew all the time. In Ethan’s defense, I didn’t have all of the distractions that he has today. I might not have drawn quite as much had I had Directv, iPods and tablets.

11) Ethan is a smaller version of me. As my first-born, it should be obvious that Ethan is my “mini-me.” All of my kids are to some extent. As I wrote this post, it’s become even more obvious how much Ethan and I share in common. It makes me proud to have my children as my legacy.

In closing, I’d like to wish Ethan a very Happy Birthday! I’m proud of the little man that he’s becoming.

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